1. What are some dates and places here in the United States that we set aside to remember certain events or people? (The USS Arizona; Memorial Day; MLK Day; President’s Day; Gettysburg; Thanksgiving Day; Christmas Day; etc.)
2. What memorial places are special to you? (Most will have a marker in a cemetery that is especially significant.)
3. What makes that place special or significant?
Jesus took the occasion of eating the Passover Meal with His disciples the night before His crucifixion to establish a new memorial, the Lord’s Supper. In our study this week, we’ll look at what Paul taught the believers in Corinth about the right way—and the wrong way—to remember Jesus’ death through the Lord’s Supper!
With Worship! Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-22
1. How did Paul describe divisions within the church in these verses? (There are divisions in the church, different than the cliques earlier mentioned; when you come together for a fellowship meal (potluck) you do not share with all; the rich ate their meals and the poor had little or nothing to eat.)
2. How had divisions impacted the Corinthian worship services? (Paul’s conclusion for what he had heard was that the believers there were worse for coming together. They did not demonstrate brotherly love toward one another. The divisiveness seemed to grow out of the way the fellowship meal and the Lord’s Supper was celebrated.)
The intention of the church, of course, was to observe the Lord’s Supper as they met together—and Paul had every expectation they would follow his instructions. But instead, at the meal, each one ate…without regard to other believers. Unlike the observance of many churches today, when the Lord’s Supper is part of a corporate worship service, the Corinthian believers included the Lord’s Supper as part of a meal they would eat together. Some rich members were greedily eating most of the food, leaving little or none for those who were poor. If the rich were hungry, Paul implied that they should eat at home.
Scripture clearly gives us guidance: Luke 14:8-11—Jesus says take the last seat not the seat of honor; James 2:1-9—rich man and poor man come to church; Phil. 2:3—consider others first; Eph. 5:18—don’t get drunk with wine.
3. What are some ways a religious observance can become misguided?
4. What factors contribute to the observance becoming misguided? (Sometimes frequency leads to simply going through the actions without a meaningful worship experience.)
5. What do Paul’s instructions here reveal about the nature of the Lord’s Supper? (It is a time to care for one another. When the Lord’s Supper is shared in a spirit of selfishness, it is a farce. Believers should approach the Lord’s Supper with reverence for God and respect for one another.)
6. What can be done to keep the focus of a religious practice on God and His purposes?
7. What lessons can we learn and apply to our gathering together each week for Bible Study and Worship? (Don’t allow it to become simply a ritual we go through without thought, but a true time of learning and focused worship!)
Paul did not simply rebuke the Corinthians’ actions without offering truth to help them recover a right focus on the Lord’s Supper.
With Remembrance! Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
1. How did Paul re-focus them on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper?
2. How did Paul’s use of the plural “you” in these verses confront the selfish individualism of the Corinthians that Paul was addressing? (He was speaking to the church body as a whole. They were united in several ways and Paul wanted them to realize they were all part of one body—the body of Christ.)
3. How would you summarize Paul’s instructions? (Believers should be mindful that the words Paul spoke in this passage are the words of Jesus. This should provide even more credibility to the correct observance of the Lord’s Supper.)
4. Why did Jesus tell His disciples to observe the Lord’s Supper? (It is done in remembrance of Jesus and the sacrifice He made on our behalf.)
5. What emotions well up in you when you hear the words of these verses repeated during the Lord’s Supper? (We should honor Jesus in His humanity as the incarnated Son of God and remember how His broken body endured the suffering of the cross.)
6. What does the “New Covenant” mean? (The old covenant consisted of the laws that God gave Moses. These laws defined the relationship between God and His people and helped them to live in righteousness before God.)
The blood of Jesus represented the new covenant, which changed the relationship between God and the followers of Christ. Christians are not governed by the written laws of Moses but by laws that are written on the heart. In Hebrews 9:15-17 the writer tells us that Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant between God and Man. In Hebrews 10:4 the writer tells us “The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin.” That is why Jesus had to come and be the ultimate Sacrifice so that our sins are atoned for once and for all!
7. How often are we supposed to observe the Lord’s Supper? (Jesus didn’t tell us how often it should be observed. He simply said that when we do we are remembering and proclaiming the Lord’s death until He returns!)
8. How can the Lord’s Supper be a means of sharing the gospel with others?
9. How does observing the Lord’s Supper give a believer confidence in his or her salvation?
After recalling Jesus’ Last Supper, Paul returned to instructions for the Corinthians.
With Examination! Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
1. How might a person approach the Lord’s Supper in “an unworthy manner”? (Flippantly; without considering what the bread and juice represents; etc.)
2. What are the consequences of receiving the Lord’s Supper in “an unworthy manner”? (Paul warned the Corinthians that if they didn’t practice the Lord’s Supper with reverence, then they were dishonoring Christ. They would be guilty of sinning against the body of Christ, mocking what Jesus did and not taking it seriously.)
3. How should Christians prepare to observe the Lord’s Supper? (The reverence believers show during the Lord’s Supper has everything to do with their hearts! Our sin should drive us to the Lord’s Supper and not away from it. Therefore, when we sin we should repentantly approach the Lord’s Supper.)
When an offense that results in discord occurs between believers, they should seek forgiveness. Believers should always seek to practice the Lord’s Supper in unity with one another. After an honest appraisal of our attitudes toward God and fellow believers, Christians should partake of the Lord’s Supper in reverential awe.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. How can we make the Lord’s Supper a meaningful experience between them and God? (The Lord’s Supper is a serious and sacred ordinance that Jesus initiated Himself; believers should give their heartfelt focus.)
2. What actions do you need to personally take to safeguard against abusing or ignoring the observance of the Lord’s Supper?
One of the most meaningful times of observing the Lord’s Supper was when we had the observance in complete silence! It was deeply meaningful and moving!
May our observance of the Lord’s Supper always be a time of worship, remembrance and self-examination!